At the start of a new school year, I am reminded of how difficult it is for me to reach out and talk to someone I don’t know. For most of my life I’ve been a pretty quiet, keep-to-myself kind of person, and it takes me a while to work up the courage to talk to new people. In fact, I could probably count on two hands the people I’ve really spoken to in my classes during the past two years.
For example, the second semester of my freshman Bible class, I sat next to this brunette with curly hair and a killer fashion sense. Of course I was way too intimidated to talk to her. She seemed to really have her life together, and I absolutely did not.
The entire semester I sat next to this girl. The only conversation we had was the day she came in with her hair straightened and I told her I liked it. That was it. I didn’t even know her name.
At the end of the semester, I went in for my housing meeting and asked for a room on the first floor of Stephens dorm and a random roommate. I was told my roommate’s name was Hollee Phelps and she was a pre-pharmacy major, that was all.
The next day in my Bible class, the professor was handing out papers when I noticed the name written on the top of the sheet that he handed to the brunette sitting next to me.
I totally freaked out and basically accosted her right then and there. Then she suggested that maybe we should get together for coffee one day and get to know each other. So, we met before class one Wednesday afternoon and talked until I finally looked down at my phone to check the time; we had only three minutes to get from Starbucks to room 253 in the McInteer.
We made it all the way to the Front Lawn before deciding it just wasn’t worth it to walk in five minutes late. So then we sat on the Front Lawn and talked for another hour before eating dinner together and talking some more.
When we moved into our room on the first floor of Stephens, we spent all day exchanging stories about our summers. We spent all night eating popcorn and watching the entire first season of Voltron, an animated mixture of Power Rangers and Transformers.
This year, we moved into our room on the second floor of Shores and celebrated our friendaversary by watching the third season of the same show. Which, by the way, is nowhere near as good as the first, no matter what she says.
That girl that I was too afraid to talk to in Bible class turned out to be not only my roommate but also my best friend.
My point in sharing this story is to encourage not only you, but also myself to take a chance and talk to that person sitting next to you in Bible, even if it’s scary.
College is such an important time in our lives because the choices we make now will determine who we are in the future. They say the friends you make in college will be the ones you keep. The habits you form now will most likely stick and the degree you choose now will be what gets you a job when you graduate.
College is the place to challenge our abilities and worldviews. It’s the place to face our fears so that we can grow as Christians and as people.
That’s what my columns are going to be about this year. I hope to challenge everyone who reads them to challenge themselves. And I know every single person reading is capable of doing so. You’ve made it this far, and I know that it couldn’t have all been easy.
As Christopher Robin said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” I believe in you. So, begin this school year by facing some of your fears. Take the chance and put yourself out there. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll accomplish.